Mariah Nicholas brings the energy

Britney Dixon, Sports Manager

The entire Roger Williams University women’s basketball team knows that their goals for the season are to be more disciplined on offense and tougher on defense.

This is something that Head Coach Kelly Thompson has been focusing on since preseason.

All the 2016-17 returners are stepping up in their own ways to achieve these goals, whether it be rebounds or assists. For Mariah Nicholas, her contribution isn’t physical — it is verbal.

When she isn’t on the court in Bristol, Rhode Island, senior Mariah Nicholas resides in Acushnet, Massachusetts with her family. Nicholas has been playing basketball since as long as she can remember, but her passion on campus is pursuing her degree in criminal justice.

Having never played on any travel teams throughout her life, Nicholas had to work on her own to get noticed by recruiters. When it came time to make a decision, she narrowed her choices to RWU and University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. While UMass Dartmouth was closer to home, RWU came out on top with a better criminal justice program and a more appealing campus.

Nicholas says that throughout her years on the team, she has grown mentally and physically.

“Obviously you gain skill over the years, but I think I’ve gotten better at trying to control the offense and on defense, just being more aware of what we’re running,” Nicholas said.

One of the skills Nicholas has enhanced is communication and leadership on the court.

Nicholas spends much of her time on the court posting up in the paint to lead her teammates in the right direction, but camping out under the basket has also averaged her seven rebounds and a season-high of five blocks in the team’s matchup against Nichols College last Tuesday night.

“My coach even says if I’m not talking on the court it makes a big difference,” Nicholas said. “I just like to bring as much energy on the court as possible whether that’s through communication or what.”

Another important aspect of the game to Nicholas is to always bring the energy.

“My coach is big on leaving your day at the door and just coming into practice and focusing [on] those two hours on the sport and your teammates,” Nicholas said.

With their season theme of mental toughness, Nicholas knows that focusing on the process one day at a time will help them keep the energy high. It might even help them reach her personal season goal.

“I’m just trying to get a [Commonwealth Coast Conference] championship. The past four years we’ve come so close and we just haven’t gotten it yet,” said Nicholas.

According to Nicholas, the team is trying to focus on one win at a time and day-by-day.

Nicholas’s work ethic has been obvious to more than just the Bristol community. She earned CCC Player of the Week honors alongside men’s basketball junior captain Austin Coene for the last week of November.

Looking toward the remainder of the season, Nicholas says the team needs to stay composed on offense — especially against Western New England University and University of New England. On defense, the Hawks need to stick to a one-on-one defense and out-rebound their opponents.

“We’re just trying to change the culture of the sport,” Nicholas said.

As part of creating chemistry with the newcomers, Nicholas thinks it is important to stay positive and be selfless on the team.

“You can’t expect everyone to have the same strengths that you have. It’s important to recognize the strength you have and just bring it,” Nicholas said.

It is apparent to all the returners that the chemistry has enhanced since last year, and they all believe they have a lot to thank for that.

On Sunday afternoon, the Hawks hope to showcase that energy and chemistry in their head-to-head with Connecticut College. While Connecticut College may not be in the CCC, no one on the current roster has ever come out with a victory against the Camels. Connecticut has won their last six games and are hungry for another triumph.

“The way we are this year, we’re all bringing a lot of energy and we’re picking each other up,” Nicholas said.